The Good Wife "Judged" Review: The Strains On Us All

The Good Wife S07E13: "Judged"

"Judged" had me frustrated. On some level, I really just wanted to hand in a brief review that read, "Well, that was an episode of The Good Wife." and then dive right into the notes section. And this response was reflective of my general investment in the show and its storylines, but it's just reflective of the show itself at this point. It was a solidly built episode of The Good Wife that, like "Iowa" before it, managed to have Alicia behave like something resembling a human being about the whole voicemail storyline... before cranking it up to 11. I think I had almost talked myself into internalizing and working through the storyline, and then this episode shot that idea pretty much to hell. 

I think a lot of my hemmed-and-hawed feelings dealt with the fact that much of the Alicia and Lucca storyline this week could've been rooted in pretty much anything, and it would've worked pretty much as well it did here. But that it was rooted in Alicia's continuing downward spiral because of Eli telling her that he deleted Will's voicemail ended up feeling somehow forced. It's like that scene in Amadeus when Emperor Joseph II told Mozart he had too many notes. And I know Joseph was supposed to be a bit of know-nothing that's insulting a genius—hence Mozart's rejoinder above cutting a some notes: "Which few did you have in mind, Majesty?"—but if you take away the voicemail reveal in The Good Wife, could you still have almost this exact same episode?

Apart from the scene between Alicia and Lucca by the laundry machines, I feel like the answer was yes.

So much of Alicia's anger about the situation around a former bond court client could've been motivated by the Schakowsky's long-running ill treatment of her and her wounded professional pride. Then all of the other elements of the bond court storyline, including the other attorneys covering for her and disliking her or the taxing of clients, would've come into play just as easily as they did here. Even the risk-reward aspect of winning the suit against Schakowsky could've played into things, and the episode wouldn't have even needed the emotional blinders Alicia had about the whole thing. It would've just been a big gamble Alicia made that ended her and Lucca up right where they ended up: with Cary offering them a new home and to cover some the cost of the suit.  The anger over the voicemail just didn't add anything to the overall narrative.

It did, however, create one of the show's best scenes in recent memory. Alicia and Lucca's conversation, including Alicia's speech that was about being depressed even though she never used the word, was just really, really great. Margulies and Jumbo (the episode was Jumbo's Emmy submission because she was stellar in this episode) killed it. Margulies was very keyed into exactly what she felt like Alicia should be feeling, and from a writing standpoint, this was the most open Alicia's been with anyone on screen. Ever. Jumbo wisely chose to underplay just enough to balance Margulies going big, and the loneliness Lucca expressed was nicely reinforced by the glimpses into her personal life we've gotten over the previous few episodes. There's a ton of gut wrenching emotional honesty in the scene (the bit about Alicia not being sure if she likes her kids aside, because that's nonsense).

Then I remember the context for it all, and it created a hollowness to it all. It's fruit of a poisonous tree, as it were. It was good, even great, and then I remembered the sheer contrivance of it all that it took for us to get here, and I was decidedly annoyed by it. That Eli showed up at the end to apologize, again, but also stand up for himself a bit by pointing out that Alicia being Alicia, her affair with Will would've likely only gotten a few more months. He really didn't stop a romance, and he didn't get in the way. Will and Alicia found their ways to one another anyway. And then they found their ways apart.

And so, like Will and Alicia drifting toward and away from one another, the siren's call of Lockhart, Agos & Lee sounded its melody again, and this time Alicia may not be able to refuse it. I mean, the whole thing was a tired mess—how many times have we done this?—but it's also one that felt weirdly wrong if she does return to the firm? She did just explain how tired she was of the law, of her little (HA!) apartment, of her kids, but she's going to return to the firm that Will was at? Again? After all this? C'mon.

I get it, though, sort of. Not from an emotional perspective for Alicia, because it won't make a lot of sense, but from a thematic perspective, returning to LAL after trying to make it on her own will feel like yet another compromise Alicia's had to make to survive, another example of her inability to fully succeed on her own terms. And the show does love to do that. Maybe it's just too much now, though.



SIDEBAR

– Diane squared off against Martha (remember Martha? I like Martha) over a free speech issue at a private college. It could've been infinitely more interesting than it was presented had it not felt like the episode was just giving Diane something to do. Though, most of what Diane has had this year has mostly felt like "just giving Diane something to do" so... yeah.

– So weirdly frustrated by "Judged" that I didn't discuss all the Alicia and Jason kissing! IN AN ELEVATOR. Because that's where people do sexy stuff on this show.

– Rosemary Rodriguez's episodes always look good, and this one wasn't an exception. Canted angles for Alicia's mental state AND a 180-degree rule violation? On the nose, of course, but purposefully so. That shaky push in on Alicia as she talked about how depressed she was? Quality stuff (I love when this show has the camera as a character even if we're not necessarily assuming an actual character's perspective). I also think this was the best anyone's ever shot Cush Jumbo on the show. A real respect paid to Lucca and a solid enhancement to Jumbo's performance in the shot selection.

– The show is off, again, next week, this time for the Super Bowl. Had I known that the show was going to take so many breaks, I wouldn't have even mentioned that I was worried about burnout. Also: you all were very understanding about the whole thing, and I appreciate that!

– Speaking of the show being off, Margulies may've confirmed that she is done with the show after this season. It may've been a joke or a power play to get more money, or she could be done since Michelle and Robert King are moving on as well. Maybe Diane could become the new good wife?


What did you think of "Judged"?


Comments (52)
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Feb 04, 2016
I actually enjoy this season more than I expected to.
The scene with Lucca was so gorgeous. It underlined how Alicia had drifted away from everyone in her life and had no one to talk to and suddenly explained why the show needed Lucca: so that Alicia can start rebuilding some interpersonal relationships.
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Feb 04, 2016
"but also stand up for himself a bit by pointing out that Alicia being Alicia, her affair with Will would've likely only gotten a few more months. He really didn't stop a romance, and he didn't get in the way. Will and Alicia found their ways to one another anyway. And then they found their ways apart."

This has apparently been a very divisive point. There have been posts here basically saying the same thing that Eli said in this episode; I disagreed then, and actually paused the DVR last night to yell my reasons for disagreement at Eli. There is a BFD between having enough information to make a conscious decision to end a failed marriage (which she is still mired in btw) and starting a new relationship in broad daylight with a man she has known and loved for a long time, and sort of ending up having a slink-around, problematic affair that has the taint of this missed communication hanging over it without all parties understanding it. Getting to sleep with him was not the whole rum cake, people.

Depending on how you view this, you will see the current show and Alicia's story completely differently.

I'm really glad she mentioned the alcohol in her breakdown. The switch from moderate wine to fairly constant liquor has been worrying me. That scene was beautifully done, and yes, Cush Jumbo is so remarkably lovely. That face is just made for the camera.
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Feb 04, 2016
I do feel, though, that lots of great love stories only work because the lovers don't talk to each other. I mean, wouldn't Will ever mention the voicemail during the affair. Or, since he didn't, was it really such a deep relationship? Dramatic, yes. Mature, not so much.
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Feb 04, 2016
What their eventual relationship became is one thing... I can think of reasons why he might have been reluctant to bring it up, given that he was a secret lover and that he believed she passed on the option to give it a real try as a proper relationship. That's all over though. I was really talking about why the missed opportunity actually did matter. There was no guarantee that it would have ended as a fairy tale, but that's not the point. It's about what we choose. I feel very sure that she would have chosen a different path if she'd heard that voicemail, and Eli thought so too--he couldn't have the faithful wife to his candidate deciding to leave for something [quite possibly] better. That's why he erased it, and it's also why he's sorry.
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Feb 05, 2016
I really get why Eli was - or should be - sorry. I'm just not so sure she would've chosen Will (and definitely not that she would've started something permanent with him) - much as I really, really wanted her to.
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Feb 04, 2016
Why can't I watch last episode on tv.com anymore? Is there a change?
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Feb 02, 2016
I appreciate how TGW tries to tie loose ends from Season 1 before the end but it doesn't make one bit of sense!
So Will told Alicia he loved her in S1 finale and Alicia didn't get the message but didn't they end up together in S3 anyway ?!
At any point during their hidden affair, didn't Will have a gazillion chances to mention the phone call to Alicia? And even if he didn't, it was Alicia who called off the affair (over the same kids that now claims she doesn't like) !
How does a stupid little voice mail could have made any difference? Noel, help me out here !

The writers are pretending long time watchers of the series had gotten amnesia.
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Feb 02, 2016
I might be on the wrong team here, but this episode really nailed it for me. If TGW can keep it up, this season won't be so bad afterall.
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Feb 02, 2016
By my opinion, this first 13 episodes of season 7, were needed to clean the air. It was necessary to cut down all relations with past and, especially, with pure politics in Alicia life. Now, it commence again and writers should use that in their advantage and make an extremely good story plot that can last for another 7 season. They just need to be very careful. This is perfect time for restart.
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Feb 02, 2016
"the bit about Alicia not being sure if she likes her kids aside, because that's nonsense"
That is definitely not nonsense! Yes, you love your children to death. You raise them, adore them, respect them and you go berserk if someone even says something bad about them, let alone do anything to them, but that does not mean that you like the people they become!

Other than that, the episode felt really mediocre and if Alicia goes back to LAL it will be a huge disappointment for me! I mean... really? AGAIN?!?!?!

The whole "erased message" totally makes sense to me. It is only logical to think that hearing that message could have opened up a whole other story for them. That they would have been together longer or even that he might have not died!

I loved the Alicia- Lucca scene and I loved the Alicia - Eli scene.

To be honest, the thing that bugged me most about this episode was the fact that they went after a judge! And... well, ok... let's say that Alicia was not in the best state of mind. How could Lucca accept that?!?!?! No one in their right mind (let alone a lawyer) goes after a judge as simply as that!
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Feb 02, 2016
Oh, and had we not pointlessly followed Diane's go-nowhere story, perhaps we could have found out why the court reporter had recordings where comments by the judge were audible and not entered into the record. That smacked of shenaningans, but this episode was so busy forcing Alicia into a loss that it didn't feel like it was thinking about the actual matter of fact.
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Feb 02, 2016
This episode had DUTCH ANGLES! Dutch angles make everything more DRAMATIC and OUT OF CONTROL and ALL CAPS in the most ITALICS way possible. Never mind that it caused me to roll my eyes time and time again, that it didn't convey a damned thing, or that it felt wildly out of place and unhinged, not when there's unspoken Drama! Emotions! Thoughts! to be slapped into the audience's face somehow. In any case, I see I wholly disagree with you on this, I found the visuals here distracting and overboard.

And it's those Dutch angles that ultimately drove the narrative behind the voicemail debacle which felt entirely arbitrary.

Then Diane had a case.

- No, I don't remember Martha even a little, sorry.

- Welcome back to the addiction, Mr. Kirkpatrick.
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Feb 02, 2016
I am to go and just say it: she was a strong woman which got our sympathies more than less of the time, now she is a boring, predictable hater bitch. I am giving this a couple of episodes, and if no improvements I am dumping it.
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Feb 02, 2016
I see a lot of mixed feelings on here this week, and I fully understand the reasons. The show is proceeding almost as if it were real life, where no one knows what's going to happen. I like it. I also like these people, and enjoy watching them do their thing. I will stay until the end because of that, and have no expectations. It always entertains me and I don't want it to be over...
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Feb 01, 2016
"The anger over the voicemail just didn't add anything to the overall narrative.....
Then I remember the context for it all, and it created a hollowness to it all. It's fruit of a poisonous tree, as it were."


This is just plain nuts. There are two narratives in the show, the overall long term narrative, and the issue/case of the week, Clearly it added a lot to the former., so whining about it being unrelated to the latter is trying to force a square peg in a round hole.
As for it being somehow flawed or forced- the 'poisonous tree'- when Will died she went into a tailspin that lasted a bunch of shows. THAT'S how much he meant to her. Now, Eli brings that all back up and you're upset she goes into another grief tailspin? Like that doesn't make TOTAL sense?

You might not like what the show is doing, but that's more on you than the show.


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Feb 01, 2016
"The anger over the voicemail just didn't add anything to the overall narrative.....
Then I remember the context for it all, and it created a hollowness to it all. It's fruit of a poisonous tree, as it were."


This is just plain nuts. There are two narratives in the show, the overall long term narrative, and the issue/case of the week, Clearly it added a lot to the former., so whining about it being unrelated to the latter is trying to force a square peg in a round hole.
As for it being somehow flawed or forced- the 'poisonous tree'- when Will died she went into a tailspin that lasted a bunch of shows. THAT'S how much he meant to her. Now, Eli brings that all back up and you're upset she goes into another grief tailspin? Like that doesn't make TOTAL sense?

You might not like what the show is doing, but that's more on you than the show.


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Feb 01, 2016
I actually loved the episode. It really spoken to me personally. The rage and the numbness of depression. Days where nothing matters. As for her kids comment, in depression no one matters either. She also said something about making her kids important people. Sometimes venting out helps.

As for the kiss it was hurried. It could waited till next episode but i guess they had to mive the story quickly.
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Feb 01, 2016
This episode worked for me in that it began the process of moving Alicia out of the funk she'd gotten herself into with the whole voicemail-gate and subsequent 'what-if' drama...

It made sense to me that Alicia lost against the corrupt judge. Judges are very powerful and it's going to be tough to get one convicted... Having said that the presiding judge during this episode seemed, in spite of all, to believe that Alicia was right, and he could see Schakowsky in cahoots with Bernie so... am hoping somewhere down the line he may do something... Like get judge Schakowsky retired for example...

Lucca is itching to join Lockhart Agos (Lee?) so that's likely to tip the balance for Alicia to go back to her old firm... I think she and Diane have to bury the hatchet...
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Feb 01, 2016
i have a feeling sadly that this is the last season too. though 7 seasons feels too short to me. i dunno why it just does. maybe they uh will have her actually divorce peter at the end of the series? and maybe be with Jason? i have no idea but i'm dying to find out. i also am tired of the NASA storyline as well it's boring and the characters are annoying as fuck too.
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Feb 01, 2016
I agree the nasa thing is too much.
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Feb 01, 2016
Sorry NSA
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Feb 02, 2016
sorry as well that's what i meant too
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Feb 01, 2016
I have no objection to TGW's new love interest but I wish he'd shave! He's a good actor. Caight him for the first time on Extant. Wanted him to shave there too!
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Feb 01, 2016
Really, women like that beard. I have to admit it, I saw the kiss a few times.
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Feb 02, 2016
Yes, we do. It's a not beard, beard.
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Feb 01, 2016
If you don't like the show anymore maybe it's time to quit writing about it. You're biased toward the show and perhaps you would be better off writing about the TV shows you like and everyone would have a better time.
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Feb 01, 2016
Am I crazy? Cos I still love this show. I loved this episode. I cried twice. I think this is the final season and I see this as a final stretch way to bring the team back together to fight the malpractice suit.
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Feb 01, 2016
You could have something here. Good catch!
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Feb 01, 2016
I haven't seen the episode yet. TGW has gone from must-see-tv to must-see-before-next-week's-episode-tv this season. However I must say that I would TOTALLY watch TGW: The Diane Years. Make it so, pls.
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Feb 02, 2016
I think they could do a great spin off, call it "The Liberal Wife" and focus on Diane's marriage.
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Feb 01, 2016
If that would have spun off some years ago, then sure. But lately... it's hard to get excited about her character considering she has soooo little to do on the show.

Though, who am I kidding. I'd watch Christine Baranski in just about anything -- even if it's a watered down role from The Good Wife.
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Feb 02, 2016
Or Mama Mia!
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Feb 01, 2016
Looks clear that Alicia's going to set sail with Jeffrey and wave fair well to the show.
The scene was powerful with Alicia and Lucca but smelt a bit heavy handed toward Lucca turning into being about her. Not exactly a way to talk a truly depressed person down - hey, what about me!
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Feb 01, 2016
I think she was trying to show her that she can relate and lighten the mood
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Feb 02, 2016
Yes and trying to show her she had worth, even if she felt worthless.
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Feb 01, 2016
After this episode, I'm guessing the NSA (remember that plotline?) will be the ones to catch the judge.

But if that doesn't happen, then I'm very confused- why would LA&L bring Alicia back after all the bad blood AND RIGHT AFTER SHE SUED A JUDGE!
Unsuccessfully, I might add.
AND when she is being sued.
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Feb 01, 2016
1 or 2 episodes ago, we found that the people that some clients were unhappy with LA&L's impersonal touch while liking their infrastructure, but liked Alicia's and Lucca's personal touch while hating their infrastructure. The end result was the clients might not pick EITHER of them.

So a couple episodes ago (or last week?) Carey was suggesting that they come back to the firm and kind of be the "personal touch" lawyers so the clients stick with them.

Between client unhappiness and the fact they just lost a huge chunk of their staff -- they probably need SOMETHING.
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Feb 04, 2016
Yes, and she (and Lucca) are good at what they do, so it's not like they're just any lawyers. Also there may have been some looming money/liability thing they explained a while back that I didn't fully understand. But the solution Cary suggested was asking her back. I think he misses her.
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Feb 01, 2016
I loved Alicia and Lucca's scene together, and I'm glad they finally let Alicia have her meltdown so she can get past it. I agree they've kinda forced that story line. I mean, I would be pissed at Eli too, but they should have had this falling out back when Will died! It would have been much more emotional and meaningful.
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Feb 04, 2016
Except that in real life things like this can leave big-assed, unhealing holes in people that may or may not make sense to anyone else, and we've watched her slow decline (although not everyone saw it that way) and gradual isolation for some time now. I'm glad it finally broke. I can see where some people think the cause is irrational, but I don't agree, and besides that love and grief do not follow the same rules for 'proportionate response'. Thank the gods for that conversation in the laundry room.
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Feb 01, 2016
Also, I missed a couple minutes in the middle -- apparently a crucial couple of minutes.

What exactly happened that turn the tables on Alicia and made HER out to be the bad guy and the target of the suit?
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Feb 01, 2016
The fat bales-bond idiot decided to re steal the convict as a client to get at Alicia and cite her as having unduly failed him. Had a classic line, whereby the judge said who knows, maybe I'll be seated over there next.
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Feb 01, 2016
Wow. This show was so nothing. I wasn't touched by any of it. Alicia is depressed about her life, of course, and a lot of it is due to decisions she made. She isn't a victim. It is a relief to see her get out of her self pity (deserved or not), but kissing Jason because of a mutual attraction isn't the answer to her life problems, and while forgiving Eli for his deceptions is a step toward feeling better it came too fast and too suddenly, though certainly a cathartic meltdown and some warm comfort can change a person's attitude somewhat. The college case was so boring and predictable I almost fast forwarded through that part.

I was slightly concerned about Alicia's cavalier attitude toward her laundry. After all, she has very nice clothes, and one has to be careful about laundering them properly.
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Feb 02, 2016
Very nice clothes.
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Feb 01, 2016
It kind of all spun out of control with the vote 1-2 seasons ago; and much of the inertia wasn't even her fault.

She honestly thought she could do the job (I won't argue that point because I don't know what's required) but her backers left her out to dry and framed her for rigging the voting machines; something she had nothing to do with.

That got her fired from her LA&L after they agreed to take her back; not to mention ripped off thanks to David Lee. She became "untouchable" as the "corrupt politician" so other firms avoided her. She had to start from square-one with a Judge that didn't like her (due to recent events and being "rich"). And just as things were starting to look up: her clients started bailing out and now she's being sued for a lot of money.

And on top of THAT suck salad, she learned about Eli's actions years ago AND that the sheer fact that she acted like she didn't know about the message actually SENT a message to Will that she didn't want anything to do with him.

It's actually been a fairly depressing season for her.
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Feb 01, 2016
I hated this episode, and where the show has been going.

Firstly while I'm not saying Alicia should be forever victorious, I think lately the writers have been dumping on her a bit too hard. There had better be a big pay-off or major victory after all of this (and I don't mean the following paragraph).

Secondly, yup... it continues to look like they're just resetting her by adding her back to the same old firm in the same old building with the same old cruddy management from the early seasons. Heck, they even joked that maybe she would be an Associate again :-)

Lastly -- I have a royal pet peeve about corruption. Especially when it's something that immediately impacts people like Doctors or Judges. The fact that we see this judge doing so much BS is just... infuriating. Can't the FBI just arrest him already?
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Feb 01, 2016
I'm so confused, a few weeks before I was defending the show and the whole voicemail meltdown and now I'm just confused about the point of the show. What's it even about anymore?
Alicia trying to do the right thing and going up against authority again and woops backfires, who'd have thought? Entertaining enough if only slightly credible. The college storyline (Diane advocates again for free speech on behalf of a non-character, with no backstory, with no personal stakes.... snore) I cared so little about it got the fast forward treatment.
Eli bobs up and down a bit to elaborate on the voicemail and to continue a steady stream of apologies, but adds not much new.
Then thrown into all this we get an awesome laundry meltdown. Alicia finds another best female friend with ambiguous sexuality overtones. And the man kiss.
If she goes back to the beige offices, are we not back where we started with Peter failed and on the out, Luca in place of Kalinda and Jason the new Will? (although Will is irreplaceable... obv!)
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Feb 01, 2016
I don't even watch this show, but I stayed with it after Madam Secretary this week. I feel like your review and Noel's sums up the show well enough that I can continue to avoid the path not taken.
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Feb 02, 2016
I hasten to add then, that it's very worth while watching the previous seasons, it used to be awesome and one of the reliably highest quality shows in my very long viewing list.
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Feb 01, 2016
The kissing in the elevator was just wrong considering the whole Will voicemail thing. Not the kissing - just the elevator. If that door had closed I would have screamed!
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